Hard 'core'? Birmingham City Council's net filtering
Back in early July, the Birmingham Post
reported on Birmingham City Council's adoption of online filtering
software. It will block Council workers from accessing sites on
subjects as diverse as smut, porn, cannibalism and witchcraft. But is
it a sign of (bad) things to come for net users in public service?
The story took a turn for the better last week, as the National Secular Society (NSS) wrote to Birmingham City inquiring whether the council seriously intended banning access to New Age and Atheist material, whilst leaving open access to religious sites of almost any and every other denomination. On the surface, this would seem to represent a foot-in-mouth result on the part of the Council. It would also be followed with legal action by the NSS if it turned out to be true.
Not so fast. What appears to be happening is that Birmingham City Council is starting to translate some broad existing guidelines on internet use into actionable policy. At the highest level, the guidelines are almost unexceptionable. Employees